Corruption charges: Court frees ex-Air Chief on 6 counts, orders him to open defence on 7th count charge

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A former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar, got a reprieve on Tuesday as a Federal High Court in Abuja freed him of six of the seven counts of corruption and money laundering charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, in a ruling on a no-case submission by Umar, held that the anti-graft commission was unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant (Umar) took money from the vaults of the Nigeria Airforce (NAF) as alleged by the EFCC.

Following this, Justice Dimgba acquitted and discharged Umar on six of the seven counts.

Justice Dimgba said the prosecution was not able to link the defendant with removal of money from Nigeria Air Force (NAF) account for purchase of any of his houses in Mabuchi, Kano, Asokoro and Kaduna as alleged.

He also said that there was no direct link between Umar and the vendors of the houses, which he bought outside the period he was Chief of Air Staff.

The judge further said that the court, being a court of law and not of morals, could not rule on the morals of the monthly upkeep funds for the office of the Chief of Air Staff.

Justice Dimgba noted that the burden to show that the money for buying the houses came from illegal sources was on the prosecution, which it failed to discharge.

He held that there was no evidence that the defendant violated any of the provisions of the Money Laundering Act.

However, on count seven, Justice Dimgba said the defendant has a case to answer.

He held that the sum of N66m was transferred from NAF operations account for the renovation and improvement of Umar’s Asokoro extension house.

He therefore ordered Umar to defend himself on the seventh count which borders on transfer of money from NAF account to a personal account for the renovation of the house in Asokoro, Abuja.

On count seven, the EFCC alleged that Air Marshal Umar as the Chief of Air Staff, Nigerian Air Force on or about March, 2012 in Abuja, indirectly transferred the sum of N66m into the Stanbic IBTC Account No: 0202077424 belonging to Capital Law Office, a personal account, from NAF Operations Account domiciled at UBA Plc.

The said sum was for the renovation and improvement of a personal house, No.1853 Deng Xiao Ping Street, off Mahathir Mohammed Street, Asokoro Extension, Abuja.

The commission said this was a criminal breach of trust and corruption and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

Dimgba thereafter adjourned the matter till April 28 and 29 for continuation of trial.

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